Pulling Out the Pink Thing
Let's face it, the humble little CT 110 Honda Step Through (or Steppy, as they are affectionately known down here) is not usually a machine one would associate with hardcore racing. Sure, mailmen all over Australia have thrashed the living crap out of them for decades delivering your bills but one must really delve into the world of custom made party drugs to envision even one in race trim, let alone a whole pit area full of nothing but them. Well folks, I have lived the experience and it is up there with the best motocross events I have ever seen...
Let me explain...
Whenever the full moon falls on a Saturday night, an exclusive group of strange but likeable individuals hold what could quite probably be the oddest motorcycle race meet in this part of the world. Set deep off the beaten track, in the wilds of the Blue Mountains overlooking Western Sydney, this race is unique in that one can only ride a step through motorcycle and even then only when invited. The invitation usually comes in the form of an anonymous phone call giving only a date and a meeting place (usually the Kurrajong Pub, a small country tavern perched up on Kurrajong Mountain). Once the invited entries have gathered at the pub, another mysterious call comes in, giving us directions to the track.
The Steppy Party (as they have become known) that I attended was held on the lush mountain property of a "well known Sydney radio identity" who probably didn’t even know about it. Upon entering the race precinct I was flabbergasted (love that word) to find about a hundred steppys of all religions in various states of undress and modification. The spectator area was ringed with utes and pickups, their owners kicking back on lawn chairs, beer coolers at hands reach. The tailgate party spectator clientele was an interesting cross section of society ranging from BMW driving Chardonnay sippers to heavily illustrated Harley bikers and a good roundup of the partying element of Sydneys enduro, motocross and vintage racing scenes. If you added the strong smattering of local hillbillys you had an entry list that would bring most promoters to early climax.
The course by daylight looked like any other bush track but when the sun went down the true genius of the people behind the race became apparent. The entire course was mapped out by thousands of Christmas fairy lights driven by a diesel generator. Particularly difficult sections were lit by floodlights mounted in the trees above and further floodlights were supplemented by car headlights on the main start / finish straight, in front of the main spectator area.
The racing machinery was as trick and varied as a steppy can get. ‘Dingo’ Dave Dunne had his "Wayne Gardner replica"CT100 there complete with papier mache fairing bearing Rothmans Honda colours. A well known enduro racer had fitted ten inch travel Yamaha forks and Fox shocks to his CT110. Another had Maico forks and Profab swingarm with Works shocks. One former International speedway star had gone to the trouble of fitting a CT110 engine to a Bridgestone 90! Half of the over 100 bikes were modified in some way and using methanol fuel. The racing was loosely split into modified and stock divisions and then further split into A and B classes based on ability. There was a plethora of interesting machinery scattered all over the pits but it was the steppy racing sports true megastar that truly stole the show.
Billy Johnson is the Bubba Stewart of steppy racing. His exploits on his legendary "Pink Thing" are the stuff you save for storytime with your grandchildren. "Pink Thing" itself is a highly modified (rumor, and the quarter inch aluminum space under the cylinder has the bike at 145cc) seventies model CT90 which derives it's name from its all over, tires and all, nipple pink paint job. On this particular evening the sun was about to go down behind the mountains and Billy hadn't shown. Many of the crowd were there to see their hero in action and were becoming restless by his non-arrival. Suddenly a deep rumble coming from the car park caused everyone to turn their heads. Arriving fashionably late enough to soak up the attention, Johnno cruised on in his 440 cubic inch Valiant ute. Not only did our hero have the legendary "Pink Thing" in back, there was also a never before seen Yamaha 50cc Moped. Being the consummate showman, Billy had timed his arrival to perfection and as the sun sank behind the mountains he proceeded to fire up the pink pair in the fading dusky light. The foot long blue flames and raspy bark from the unique little machines indicated to all that they were set up to run on very large doses of Nitromethane. Bill had done the psych job of the month. The crowd loved it and his fellow competitors were once again freaked by the master.
The racing was a hoot. Of course Billy and his Top Fuel CT90 didn't let down his adoring fans, winning most of the races he raced. The higher the full moon got, the better the racing. By midnight the racers were as drunk as the spectators and the paddock had the atmosphere of a motocross rave party and the mountain air smelled strongly of the seductive combination of methanol, barbecue and the 'herb superb'. The events were tightly run, exciting and everyone had a giant time. A huge BBQ kicked off after the last race at around four AM and a brewery full of sponsored microbeer was consumed. If a Motorcycling Australia official happened to have wandered in by mistake he would have had a brain meltdown. These types of races are not a part of MA s grand plan and that, my friends is what made the event so wonderful. It was more fun than a pup tent full of naked supermodels.
Events like the Steppy Parties are the last bastion of free spirit in motorcycle racing in these parts and they must be preserved at all costs. My suggestion is to go out and get a steppy and sit by the phone. An anonymous invitation may soon come your way... FINIS...
Send comments to